The Walking Dead, “Conquer” (5.16) – TV Review

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walking dead season finale

The Walking Dead, Season 5, Episode 16, “Conquer”

Sunday, March 29, 2015, 9pm, AMC

The season finale of The Walking Dead promised to bring lots of blood. Not only did it live up to those expectations, but “Conquer” delivered the best finale the series has seen as well as providing one of the best episodes to date.

Things get off to an interesting start as we see Morgan again. Still traveling to find Rick or Washington D.C., he encounters a man with a ‘W’ on his forehead, presumably one of the people responsible for marking the walkers the group has come across in this half of the season. Morgan manages to knock him and another man out, displaying some pretty badass bow action before dragging their bodies into a car and honking the horn to attract other walkers. This is definitely not the same Morgan Rick saw a couple seasons back.

Aaron and Daryl are out again searching for people to bring into Alexandria. After spotting a man and attempting to track him, Aaron mentions to Daryl about how they’ve kicked people out of Alexandria before and gave them no weapons to survive. He says he won’t let it happen again. We never really get to find out what he meant by that, but would Aaron threaten Deanna or someone else in order to get Rick to stay? Unable to find the man, they come across a food factory. After attempting to get food from one of the trucks, they spring a trap, which opens all the trailers full of walkers. They frantically escape into a car, though they know their time is limited to be safe. Right before they get out together to try and fight them off, Morgan shows up to help them as they escape. Aaron offers to take Morgan into Alexandria, which he declines, showing them the map he’s using to track Rick. Daryl has a slight smirk on his face. I especially liked Morgan’s response of “all life is precious” when Daryl asked why he helped them.

Maggie, meanwhile, tries to convince Deanna unsuccessfully that while Rick’s actions may not have had a good outcome, his intentions were there. She reminds Deanna that she brought Rick’s group in specifically because they survived so long outside Alexandria’s walls, and therefore know what it takes to stay alive. Reg’s comment to Maggie about the nomads not surviving long due to a lack of rules was pretty spot on when he describes Rick. On the other hand, Alexandria’s residents are not prepared in the least if an attack were to happen.

Glenn follows Nicholas as he scales the walls of Alexandria. He then shoots Glenn in the forest, which turns into several intense moments of the two of them fighting each other and walkers. Ultimately, Glenn gets the upper hand and has Nicholas dead-to-rights. Because Glenn doesn’t murder in cold blood and Nicholas finally admits he’s not meant to live in this world, Glenn lets him live as they stumble back to Alexandria, bloody and bruised. This will make for a curious interaction with Deanna when they return. Will Nicholas admit to what he’s done and be outcast? Perhaps he’ll get behind Rick’s group or find a way to live behind the walls peacefully.

Gabriel continues to be an infuriating character. After going outside the walls without any weapons (“The word of God is the only protection I need.” Good luck with that, father.), he comes across a walker and get its attention, saying “I’m ready.” This clearly has several meanings as at first it appears he’s ready to die, but won’t do it himself as that would be a mortal sin in the eyes of God. Ultimately, he manages to kill the walker and put the man the walker got out of his misery before collapsing, sobbing. It’s possible this is due to him committing another sin: “Thou shalt not kill.” Gabriel has spent a better part of this season torn emotionally, but more importantly, spiritually. He keeps running back and forth to God at the drop of a hat when things get bad or he remembers the terrible stuff he’s done. He returns to Alexandria, but doesn’t lock the gate when he enters after the guard leaves to attend the meeting about Rick. More on that in a bit. His attitude does a 180 when Sasha comes to him, dealing with her own issues and demons. After saying she wants to die, Gabriel goes on a rant about how Tyreese and Bob died due to Sasha’s actions and that she sinned. After tussling, Sasha overpowers Gabriel and trains her gun on him. Again, Gabriel breaks down and asks Sasha to kill him. Thankfully, Maggie shows up in time to talk some sense into both of them.

Carol seems to lift the housewife act for the most part. She initially lies to the group about not knowing Rick had the gun. When pressed by Rick, she says she did it because she wasn’t sure how the others, especially Michonne, would react. She later confronts Pete, going so far as to threaten to kill him should he go near Rick or Jessie again. I’d wonder though if she did something to Pete if anyone would believe her, or if Deanna would take Gabriel’s words more to heart.

The big decision was what to do with constable Grimes (that sounds a bit old-timey, doesn’t it?). Rick spends most of the episode resting, though he eventually talks to Jessie, who agrees what he did was in the best interests of Alexandria, even if the others can’t see that. Unfortunately, Pete sees Rick leaving his old house, which causes him extreme anguish. Rick talks with Michonne, coming clean about the guns they took from the armory. Michonne isn’t even mad and agrees Rick made the right play, even with what he did after the fight with Pete. She just knocked Rick out for his own good so he didn’t do something he’d later regret. While heading to the meeting to decide his fate, Rick realizes the front gate was open. He also notices fresh blood. Not knowing if it’s walkers or something worse, he runs around tracking it down, eventually encountering a few walkers. He disposes of them with ease, though almost gets overtaken by one. Rick somehow manages to strangle the walker such that its head explodes, sending blood and guts everywhere. Just before the decision is made, Rick shows up with the walker corpse and throws it at the crowd, showing just how vulnerable they truly are. Rick doesn’t apologize for what he said, and why should he? His statements were correct; the residents of Alexandria are not prepared for anything to come through the walls, living or dead. Fortunately, no one was hurt by the walkers that did get in. At the same time, Pete shows up with Michonne’s sword in a rage. Reg tries to calm Pete down, but not before Pete cuts Reg’s throat. Abraham quickly tackles Pete, pinning him to the ground. As Deanna sobs over Reg’s body, she looks at Rick with a fury we haven’t seen in her eyes before, telling him to kill Pete. Rick is all too willing, but after he pulls the trigger, he’s interrupted by Morgan’s voice. Rick looks up at him, dazed, as Morgan looks on with horror. It seems as though their roles have reversed since the last time they met; Morgan has worked through his demons while Rick has become more unstable and animalistic.

[The Roundup]

  • How long in season 6 until the wolves show up at Alexandria’s door step?
  • While it’s sad Reg died, I really expected another major character to bite the dust. Glenn has had two close calls with death this season. Is he the next to go?
  • How much faith will the residents of Alexandria lose in Deanna after she let Rick kill Pete after he killed Reg, especially right after they were discussing Rick’s fate.
  • There is a ton of untapped potential with Sasha’s character. Now that she seems to be a blend of Andrea from the comics plus her own person, I hope the writers give Sonequa Martin-Green more screen time next season. She truly is underused.
9.8 Masterful

The season finale perfectly capped off the best season of The Walking Dead to date. While many questions were answered, more remain. Here’s hoping season six brings us just as much great character moments as this season. See you all in the fall!

  • Masterful 9.8
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